11 Hollywood Movies with Unexpected Mormon Connections

11. Where the Red Fern Grows (1974)

11 Hollywood Movies with Unexpected Mormon Connections

Born in 1960 on a cattle ranch in the tiny town of Cokeville, Wyoming, Stewart Petersen was just 14 years old when he landed his first starring role as Billy Coleman in the beloved family tale Where the Red Fern Grows. Though he had never previously considered acting, Petersen was intrigued when his uncle, who was producing the movie, prompted him to audition for the part.

Petersen went on to star in six other family features over the next seven years, including Against a Crooked Sky (1975) and a portrayal of the young Joseph Smith in The First Vision (1976). But by the end of his teens, Petersen grew weary of the limelight. He enjoyed the experience of making films, but not the notoriety that accompanied it, so he opted for a more ordinary life.

Petersen served a mission in the Netherlands and attended school, playing football at Ricks College and joining the wrestling team at Brigham Young University, where he studied business management. He returned to Cokeville in 1989, where he and his wife Chemene have raised his six children in the quiet, predominantly LDS community.

A dramatic true story that took place in Petersen's hometown is the subject for another major movie releasing in June: The Cokeville Miracle.

On May 9, 1986, David and Doris Young took an elementary school hostage for several hours before detonating a bomb inside a classroom where every teacher and student in the school was being held. In the wake of the madness, Ron Hartley, whose children were inside the classroom, must fight skepticism and unbelief as he hears eyewitness accounts from the students of miraculous, heavenly intervention during the crisis.

See the film on June 5 in select theaters is Utah, Colorado, and Arizona. You can also get a screening of the film in your own town. Visit tugg.com and request a screening for at least 60 people. It's the perfect film for a ward or stake activity. Don't miss out on this beautiful, faith-promoting film!

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